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Newport Beach Ford Division Gets Contract : Chosen to Compete on Anti-Tank Missile

October 21, 1986|CARLA LAZZARESCHI | Times Staff Writer

Ford Aerospace & Communications Corp.'s Aeronutronic division in Newport Beach has received a $30-million contract to develop a new shoot-from-the-shoulder anti-tank missile system for the U.S. Army.

The company is one of three defense contractors selected to compete for the right to design and produce the Army's replacement for its current Dragon portable anti-tank missile system. The other contractors are Hughes Aircraft Inc.'s Canoga Park division and Texas Instruments.

Ford executives said the contract, scheduled to last 27 months, is not expected to cause any significant employment increase locally. However, they said that if Ford wins the competition in late 1988 to produce the systems, the company's employment levels would increase significantly.

Ronald K. Ressler, vice president for business development and planning, said Ford considers the design contract a "major opportunity" to participate in what is expected to be a major new Army weapons system.

Ressler said each of the three contractors is entering a different missile-guidance technology into the competition for the production contract. Ford is betting on the laser-beam-rider technology it developed in the 1970s for similar small-system guidance.

The rules of the competition, Ressler said, require that the systems, including missiles, weigh no more than 45 pounds and be accurate at ranges up to 9,000 feet, or about 1.7 miles.

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